Page images

Touched his wide shoulders, after bending low
With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
She was a Goddess of the infant world;
By her in stature the tall Amazon
Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en
Achilles by the hair and bent his neck;
Or with a finger stayed Ixion's wheel.
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx.
Pedestaled haply in a palace court,
When sages looked to Egypt for their lore
But oh how unlike marble was that face:
How beautiful, if sorrow had not made
Sorrow more beautiful than beauty's self.
There was a listening fear in her regard,
As if calamity had but begun ;
As if the vanward clouds of evil days
Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear,
Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
One hand she pressed upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain:
The other upon Saturn's bended neck
She laid, and to the level of his ear
Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake
In solemn tenor and deep organ tone:
Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
Would come in these like accents; O how frail
To that large utterance of the early Gods!
“Saturn, look up !—though wherefore, poor old King?
“I have no comfort for thee, no not one:
“I cannot say, “O wherefore sleepest thou?'

“For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
* Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God ;
“And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
“Has from thy sceptre passed; and all the air
“Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
“Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,
“Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house ;
“And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands
“Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
“O aching time ! O moments big as years!
“All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth,
“And press it so upon our weary griefs
“That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
“Saturn, sleep on :-O thoughtless, why did I
“Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude 1
“Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?
“Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep."

As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-robed senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So came these words and went ; the while in tears
She touched her fair large forehead to the ground.

[ocr errors]

It was Hyperion :- a granite peak o
His bright feet touched, and there he staid to view
The misery his brilliance had betrayed
To the most hateful seeing of itself.
Golden his hair of short Numidian curl,
Regal his shape majestic, a vast shade
In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk
Of Memnon's image at the set of sun
To one who travels from the dusking East :
Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon's harp
He uttered, while his hands contemplative
He pressed together, and in silence stood.



Oh Thou ! thou who canst melt the heart of stone, And make the desert of the cruel breast A paradise of soft and gentle thoughts! Ah! will it ever be, that thou wilt visit The darkness of my father's soul? Thou knowest in what strong bondage zeal and ancient faith, !'assion and stubborn Custom, and fierce Pride, is old the heart of man. Thou knowest, Merciful' That knowest all things, and dost ever turn

Thine eye of pity on our guilty nature :

For thou wert born of woman thou didst come
Oh Holiest to this world of sin and gloom,
Not in thy dread omnipotent array;
And not by thunders strewed
Was thy tempestuous road;
Nor indignation burnt before thee on thy way.
But thee, a soft and naked child,
Thy mother undefiled.
In the rude manger laid to rest
From off her virgin breast.

The heavens were not commanded to prepare A gorgeous canopy of golden air; Nor stooped their lamps th' enthroned fires on high: A single silent star Came wandering from afar, Gliding unchecked and calm along the liquid sky; The Eastern sages leading on As at a kingly throne, To lay their gold and odours sweet Before thy infant feet.

The earth and ocean were not hushed to hear Bright harmony from every starry sphere; Nor at thy presence brake the voice of song From all the cherub choirs, And seraph's burning lyres [along. Poured through the host of heaven the charmed clouds One angel troop the strain began, Of all the race of man By simple shepherds heard alone, That soft Hosanna's tone.

« PreviousContinue »